The Brainerd Recreation Center will be closed today, including swim classes, since the facilities are being used for emergency shelter for the Patton Tower residents.

An electrical fire Tuesday night forced the evacuation of Patten Towers, an 11-story former hotel that has been converted to government subsidized housing apartment building in downtown Chattanooga.

The fire, which started about 10:00 p.m. in the building's basement, required nearly a dozen fire and rescue vehicles.

Captain David Thompson Jr. said the fire was located around some electrical conduits. The basement filled with black, acrid smoke and the intense flames shot the temperature up to 1,500 degrees.

The smoke spilled out onto Georgia Avenue, where residents had gathered as firefighters from the Chattanooga Fire Department attacked the blaze. Power was shut off to the building to prevent the fire from re-igniting.

Firefighters used dry powder extinguishers to get most of the blaze under control.

As a result of the evacuation, the 241 residents have been transported via CARTA buses to two local shelters set up by the Red Cross; the Brainerd Recreation Center and the East Brainerd Church of Christ.

The Brainerd Recreation Center quickly was filled with residents, forcing a second shelter to be set up at East Brainerd Church of Christ.

The evacuees may have to spend a second night at the shelters as the building is evaluated for safety and cleanup operations begin.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, and a time for the residents' return to Patton Towers has not yet been set.

The Salvation Army is teaming up with the Red Cross to provide shelter and emergency services for those displaced by the fire.

Local emergency response and disaster officials, including Hamilton County Emergency Services, Salvation Army, H.C. Health Department and CARTA, will be meeting at noon Wednesday to determine a plan of action for the residents left homeless.


Donations can be made by visiting the Salvation Army website or by calling 1-800-Sal-Army.  Monetary donations can also be mailed to 822 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37403.